This easy hunter’s chicken recipe (also known as chicken cacciatore) combines juicy chicken and earthy mushrooms in a rich, aromatic tomato sauce. It makes for an irresistible one pot dinner the whole family will love!
We love hearty, comfort food recipes around here (I’m looking at you chicken and sausage with gnocchi).
So, today I’m sharing another comfort food recipe (which happens to be an all time favourite); this is a delicious one pot, stick-to-ya-ribs, warm ya belly, make your taste buds do a happy dance, chicken dinner.
Many years ago hubby and I would watch celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich’s show on PBS.
I swear, every time we would watch it, we were transfixed by the screen. The way should would describe her dishes, make them and then (always) have a little bite, would make us want to run into the kitchen and get cooking.
I guess that means it’s a good show, right?
One of the recipes that she made was ‘hunter’s chicken’. We fell in love with it and it never disappoints. This is our version of it!
What is Hunter’s Chicken?
‘Hunter’s chicken’ or ‘hunter style chicken’ is basically a chicken cacciatore recipe. ‘Cacciatore’ means ‘hunter’ in Italian.
This Italian stew is not to be confused with the British hunter’s chicken recipe, which is totally different than Italian hunter’s chicken.
There are all sorts of variations of a hunter’s chicken recipe, some using different herbs, red versus white wine, maybe adding bell peppers and so on.
This hunter’s chicken, however, is super simple with the main components basically being chicken and mushrooms in a tomato sauce with aromatics and herbs. It’s essentially a chicken stew and is so good!
How to Make Hunter’s Chicken
Full details on how to make hunter’s chicken, or chicken cacciatore, are in the recipe card below, but here are the basics:
- Pat chicken dry, season well with salt and pepper and brown on both sides in a pan just to get a little colour. Remember, it’s definitely not cooked at this point, we’re just adding a little caramelly goodness to the party. Remove the chicken to a plate and lay to one side while you make the hunter’s chicken sauce.
- Deglaze those brown bits in the bottom of the pan with some white wine, scraping to get all that goodness.
- Add some diced onion and garlic and cook a little just to soften a tad.
- Next up to the party is sliced mushrooms, which are cooked a little.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook a bit.
- Add thyme, basil, rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Stir to incorporate.
- Pour in chicken broth.
- Canned tomatoes go next.
- Place reserved chicken (and any juices that have accumulated onto the plate) into the pot. Don’t throw away those flavour-packed juices!
- Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to a medium-low simmer, cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes (check on halfway to ensure nothing is sticking). Remove cover and cook another 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce has reduced slightly and chicken is completely cooked through.
- Garnish with fresh thyme and parsley (optional).
- Portion and enjoy!
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Type of Chicken to Use
Dark meat all the way! A combination of chicken thighs and legs was used in this recipe, but you could use one or the other if you prefer.
I don’t recommend using breast meat as it will dry out over the long cooking time. Dark meat is more flavourful, in my opinion, stays moist and works the best in stews like this.
I used 3 pounds of chicken in total, which was about 11 to 12 pieces (depending on how large your pieces are).
How to Brown Skinless Chicken Thighs (and Legs)
Yes, I removed the skin from the chicken. Unless I’m enjoying wings or fried chicken out somewhere, at home I always opt to remove skin. I like to save those calories for some crusty bread to go with, LOL.
In all seriousness, though, I like to remove the skin because even if you do crisp it (and render out some fat), you are putting it back into a moist environment (aka tomato sauce) and it will get soggy again (and ain’t nobody got time for soggy skin).
So, to brown those skinless chicken thighs and legs:
- Pat chicken dry
- Season with salt and pepper
- Heat a large pot (I used an enameled cast-iron pot) on medium high heat and add a good lug of olive oil (about 1.5 tablespoon)
- Add chicken and brown about 5 minutes, before turning to brown other side (the chicken is not cooked at this point)
Tip: Work in batches, so you don’t overcrowd pan and ‘sweat’ chicken instead of ‘browning’.
- Now that chicken has a little colour, it’s ready to be used in this chicken stew, continuing to cook in the tomato sauce
Chicken won’t ‘unstick’ from pan? Don’t fret! It will release when it’s ready! It may take longer than 5 minutes, depending on exactly how hot your temperature is.
Again, don’t fret!
Add a touch more oil and turn up the heat a little. It will release.
If you want to skip browning of the chicken, that’s okay! Just cook chicken a little longer in the sauce until completely cooked through and the juices run clear.
Use a good quality can of tomatoes! It’s such a big part of this Italian stew so you want it to be good. I love ‘San Marzano’ tomatoes, but if you can’t get that, use another good one. Buy ‘whole’ peeled tomatoes and squish them with your hands before adding to the pot (or use a potato masher).
I deglazed with white wine, but you could totally use chicken stock or broth if you prefer.
Like things more spicy? Add more crushed red pepper flakes. Prefer less? Omit or just add a pinch. I used ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and didn’t find this chicken stew to be too spicy at all. You do you!
Variations to this Chicken Stew Recipe
At the end of cook time, stir in some pitted black olives (you can slice if you prefer), about ⅓ cup or so.
You can also stir in some capers, about 3 tablespoons.
Rather deglaze with red wine? Go for it!
Only have canned mushrooms on hand? Drain and use.
- Crusty bread (a must for dunking into that rich sauce)
- Creamy polenta
- Your favourite pasta (rigatoni works lovely)
- A crisp green salad
- Garlicky green beans
- Smashed baby potatoes or roasted potatoes
More Comfort Food Recipes
Whether you call it ‘hunter’s chicken’, ‘chicken cacciatore’, ‘Italian stew’ or simply ‘chicken stew’, I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
If you make this easy chicken cacciatore recipe, be sure to leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed!
Hunter’s Chicken Recipe (easy chicken cacciatore)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 3 pounds chicken thighs and legs , bone in, skin removed (roughly 12 pieces)
- ¾ teaspoon salt , divided
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper , divided
- ½ cup white wine (or unsalted chicken broth)
- 1 yellow onion , peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 8 ounces mushrooms , sliced (about ½ pound or 227 grams)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped)
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary (or ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock or broth
- 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes ('San Marzano') (tomatoes roughly mashed with a potato masher to break up before using)
- Parsley , roughly chopped (garnish to taste, optional)
- Thyme , roughly chopped (garnish to taste, optional)
- Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and season with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
- Heat 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan (I like to use a 12-inch enameled cast-iron pan, about 2.5 to 3 inches deep) over medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot, place half of the chicken in the pan. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes or until the chicken easily releases from the pan (no need to move around, chicken will release from the pan with it's ready.) Flip the chicken to the other side and continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Once first batch is done, repeat process with remaining chicken (adding/heating another 1.5 tablespoons of oil to the pan before adding the chicken).Note: Chicken is NOT cooked at this point, we are just trying to get a little colour.
- Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up any brown bits that have accumulated in the bottom of the pan. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until wine is mostly evaporated.
- Reduce heat to medium and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cook onion and garlic, stirring often, until onion has softened a little, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in thyme, basil, rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Pour in stock, scraping the bottom of the pan, if there are any brown bits.
- Stir in canned tomatoes. Rinse the inside of the can with a tiny bit of fresh water to get all that tomato sauce and pour into the pan.
- Return the chicken to the pan (along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate) and add remaining ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Tuck the chicken into the sauce and spoon some sauce over top. Bring to a light simmer, cover (with lid just slightly ajar) and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, checking on halfway, stirring the sauce, to ensure it's not sticking.
- Remove the cover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 to 15 minutes or so until the sauce has thickened slightly and the chicken is completely cooked through.
- Garnish, if desired, with parsley and thyme. Enjoy! Note: this is delicious served over creamy polenta, pasta or mashed potatoes.
Nutrition (ESTIMATE ONLY)
Nutrition estimate (if provided) is based on 1 Serving.
Nutrition information (if provided) is provided as a courtesy and should be considered an estimate only. Ingredients can vary and Girl Heart Food makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are guidelines only.